Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheap Trick perform Sgt. Peppers, live at the Hilton Hotel in Ls Vegas

I have been a Cheap Trick fan since buying the debut record when it was first released and loving their mix of hard guitar rock and wonderfully sung pop. When I had a chance to see them at the time, that cinched the deal, as they were among the best live acts of all time, with Rick Nielsen being one of the most crazed guitar men alive – as frantic (in a different way) as AC/DC's Angus Young when he appeared on the scene a few years later.

So, we thought that this show sounded like a strong concept and were looking forward to CT rockin’ up the classic Beatles’ album.

Unfortunately, a good portion of the show consisted of people other than Cheap Trick. Opening with an anonymous band doing a medley of assorted Beatles songs backed with an orchestra and occasionally singers such as Joan Osborne and some guy from the band Gomez, the evening started as an odd variety show.

When CT appeared, though, the energy level soared and the crowd jumped to the feet. Of course, the opening act is not supposed to outshine the headliner, but after paying for a Cheap Trick show, we were a little let down by having to sit through a half hour or more of people that we didn’t know or care about. CT were amazing, as always, and their portions shined. The guitarist from the opening sequence played with them so that Robin didn’t need to play throughout and they had a keyboard player as well as the orchestra. Personally, I would have preferred to see the Trick strip down and rock out these numbers a bit more, but that's me. Even Rick’s fantastic lead playing was so low in the mix that everyone had to strain to hear him.

During CT’s segment, they continued to bring out other guests (including, bizarrely – but most likely because they had just toured together – Def Leppard’s lead singer for a couple of songs) and when they would leave the stage, the proceedings would deflate significantly.

The Sgt Pepper’s album was augmented by a handful of extra Beatles songs but everyone we know (which included friends who came across country to see the show) would have loved to have seen the band rock through Sgt. Peppers and then do a set of their own.

Don’t get me wrong, the night was fun, the group did great justice to the songs (as we knew that they would) and there were some rockin’ guitar moments, but many of us wish that this had been a wilder Cheap Trick rock’n’roll show and less a variety show.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary dies at 72
Though I might not have always admitted it (in my "hipster" days), but Peter, Paul & Mary were one of the groups whose songs I first learned when I picked up the guitar many, many years ago.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

AC/DC Honda Center, Anaheim, California 9-8-09

I had never had the chance to see AC/DC before, despite being a fan since the late 70’s. I was a little worried that they might have lost their manic energy and entertainment value over the years, but this concert was still highly entertaining and wildly rockin’!

Yes, they have definitely calmed down a little – taking more breaks between songs and even Angus is a little slower that he appeared in past live videos. But he is still crazier and wilder than 97% of the rockers a fraction of his age, and still moves non-stop through all of the songs, and the band puts on a terrific show.

Opening with a promo cartoon for the “Rock and Roll Train” tune that opens their set, the screen then burst open from the “collision” of a larger than life AC/DC locomotive that belches smoke and fire throughout the set while displaying lit-up devil horns! (The Halloween-styled lit-up horns were a big merchandising standard too and looked great with hundreds of them flashing on people’s heads throughout the concert!)

Of course, they did a number of songs from the new album – “R’n’R Train” is a solid rocker, “Black Ice”, the title tune, is a nice bluesy song, though a couple of the others were pretty forgettable – but otherwise had a great set list that covered most of their history. “Hells Bells” with their huge bell that Brian Johnson swung from, “Whole Lotta Rosie” with a gargantuan blow up doll that stradled the train while bouncing with the beat, “For Those About to Rock” with the canons, “TNT”, “The Jack” (during which they showed the skankiest females in the audience on their huge video screens), “Dirty Deeds”, “Back in Black” and plenty more!

I’ve heard rumors that this might be their last tour, so, though Angus looks like an animated cadaver, they are still a mighty force of rock, so see ‘em if ya can!

(PS - One complaint that I did have, which might have been caused by our seat location, was the poor sound. The sound man had the horrible 80's affliction, "lead bass drum", with that instrument far louder than everything else combined, which made it physically uncomfortable every time it was hit. Brian's voice was low in the mix, as well, but the bass drum was the worst offender.)